I have this saying I used to tell my classes quite frequently—“All Learning, All the Time.” Even on days I didn’t say it, I had it posted on the front wall to remind students of my strong beliefs in the value of education. Although I understand not all people share my same passion for learning, especially some of my 8th graders at 7:40 AM, I tried to convey the message that they would always be learning and working in room E-13, which I believed made it a “fun” place to be.

“Fun,” I soon learned was a term that means a lot of different things to different people. My sister who is also a teacher and my mentor once told me, very early on in my teaching career, that you should never say, “we are going to have so much fun today.” Before she mentioned this, it was one of my main go to phrases, but I always wondered why my students’ responses were so unenthusiastic. However, my sister said, what’s “fun” for her, or teachers in general, is not always aligned with what students think “fun” is. Now don’t get me wrong, my sister is an excellent teacher who planned rigorous and engaging lessons, I should know I was her student several times, but to many teenagers “fun” wasn’t necessarily those things.

But, what if we could make learning history “fun” for students of all ages? What if we could inspire each and every student to value politics and history?

Although this has been something on my mind my entire, rather short, career, I started to really consider the possibilities after attending Politics and Humor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (HKS) forum with Seth Rogen and Lizz Winstead. At this event, Seth Rogen and Lizz Winstead discussed their careers in comedy and the vital role satire plays in raising political awareness. As I laughed hysterically and listened attentively, I couldn’t help but think how informative and entertaining this hour long experience was, and how nearly everyone would find it “fun”. This being said, in order to find it “fun”, you must have the historical and cultural awareness of history in place in order to appreciate the satire.

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By the time my students reach my 8th grade history classroom, many are completely disinterested when it comes to history. Because, although I firmly believe Social Science should produce citizens that are informed and embody the skills they need to analyze current events based on historical understandings, many teachers treat history as a good time to read textbook chapters, answer questions, and memorize facts. Even though I see how this path could be tempting, it cripples students’ chances of falling in love with a topic that will help them develop critical analysis skills that will benefit them, and our society, for the rest of their lives.

We need to emphasize the importance of Social Science education and make it “fun,” because it is essential to our success as a nation. Listening to Seth Rogen and Lizz Winstead made me realize just how tragic it would be if students couldn’t access political humor because they don’t have a foundational understanding of history and government. We need to start Social Science education early and we need to make it “fun”, or as close to “fun” as we can.

 

Please check in as I begin exploring ways to make this happen.


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